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Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) NY: How Does It Work?

7 min read
family and medical act fmla NY

In recent years, the importance of balancing work and personal life has become increasingly evident, especially when it comes to managing family and medical responsibilities. Recognizing this, both federal and state laws have been established to support employees during critical times of need.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a federal law, plays a crucial role in this support system, particularly in New York, where state-specific regulations augment these protections. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of FMLA as it applies in New York, offering clear, concise answers to frequently asked questions.


What is Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?

As a landmark piece of legislation in the United States, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was enacted in 1993. In the beginning, it was recognized that workers facing health crises, without losing their jobs, needed help.

In essence, FMLA allows employees 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year while maintaining their health insurance coverage. All government agencies, elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees are covered by this law. FMLA covers a wide range of situations, including illness, childbirth, adoption, and military family circumstances.

FMLA: Eligibility Criteria in NY

In NY, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) sets specific criteria to determine who is covered under its provisions.

eligibility criteria for fmla in New York

  • Employer Eligibility: FMLA applies to private-sector employers with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius, for at least 20 workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year. It also encompasses all public agencies, including local, state, and federal employers, and public and private elementary and secondary schools, regardless of the number of employees.
  • Employee Eligibility: To be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must have worked for a covered employer for at least 12 months (not necessarily consecutive). They must have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of the FMLA leave. The employee should be working at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.

Qualifying Reasons under the FMLA in NY

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in NY, employees are entitled to take leave for several significant reasons:

reasons fmla ny

  • Personal: Leave for an employee’s own serious health issue
  • Family Member’s Serious Health Conditions:  This includes to care for a spouse, child, or parent suffering from a serious health condition.
  • Birth, Adoption, or Foster Care Placement of a Child: FMLA allows parents to take leave for the birth of a child, as well as for the adoption or foster care placement of a child, providing time for bonding and care.
  • Military-Related Exigencies and Caregiver Leave: Employees may take leave for reasons related to a family member’s military service, including exigencies arising from a family member’s deployment. FMLA also provides for a longer leave (up to 26 weeks) to care for a family member who is a service member with a serious injury or illness.

Duration and Types of Family and Medical Leaves in NY

Duration of leaves under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

  • Maximum Duration of FMLA Leave: Employees are entitled to a maximum of 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period. In the case of military caregiver leave, this duration extends to 26 weeks.

Types of Family and Medical Leaves in NY

  • Continuous Leave: This involves taking a continuous, uninterrupted leave period.
  • Intermittent Leave: This type of leave allows employees to take FMLA leave in separate blocks of time due to a single qualifying reason.
  • Reduced Schedule Leave: This allows an employee to reduce their working hours, either daily or weekly, for a period of time due to a qualifying reason.

Related: Labor Laws for New York Employers

Employee Rights and Employer Obligations Under the FMLA Leave


rights under fmla new york

Job Security

Employees are guaranteed the right to return to the same or an equivalent position.

This protection ensures job security, even after an extended period away for qualifying reasons.

Health Insurance Maintenance

Employers must maintain the employee’s health insurance under the same terms and conditions as if they had not taken leave.

Employees continue to be responsible for their portion of health insurance premiums.

Protection of Employee Benefits

Employee’s benefits are maintained as if the worker is actively working.

Employer’s Role in Granting Leave and Maintaining Compliance

Employers are required to grant leave to eligible employees for qualifying reasons under the FMLA.

They must also keep accurate records and comply with all aspects of the FMLA, including not interfering with, restraining, or denying the exercise of FMLA rights.

Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees for taking FMLA leave.

How To Request FMLA Leave in NY

Step-by-Step Guide on How Employees Can Request FMLA Leave

  1. Determine Eligibility: You must work at a location with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius and be employed for at least 12 months by a covered employer.
  2. Understand the Reason for Leave: Determine your FMLA qualifying reason, such as personal health issues, family member care, birth or adoption of a child, or military exigencies.
  3. Notify Your Employer: Notify your employer in writing or verbally of your need for FMLA leave. While immediate notice is not always possible, FMLA generally requires 30 days’ advance notice.
  4. Submit Required Forms and Documentation: Complete any FMLA leave request forms provided by your employer. Provide medical certification or other required documentation to support your leave request, such as a doctor’s note or military orders, if applicable.
  5. Await Employer Response: After submitting your request, your employer must respond within five business days, notifying you of your eligibility and detailing any additional information required.
  6. Coordinate Leave Details: Discuss with your employer the specifics of your leave, such as the start date, duration, and any potential need for intermittent leave or a reduced schedule.
  7. Understand Your Rights and Responsibilities: Review the rights and responsibilities under FMLA, including job protection, health insurance continuation, and any obligations you have during your leave.

Documentation and Notice Requirements

  • Medical Certification: If you need leave due to serious medical conditions (personal or family), provide a medical certificate. The certification should include the date the condition began, its expected duration, and relevant medical facts.
  • Advance Notice: In case of foreseeable leave, such as childbirth or planned medical treatment, provide at least 30 days’ notice.
  • Periodic Updates: Keep your employer informed about your status and intent to return to work, especially if the leave duration changes.
  • Fitness-for-Duty Certification: Provide your employer with a fitness-for-duty certification before returning to work from serious health leave.

Federal vs State Specifics: Comparison of FMLA and New York’s State Law

Nature of Leave

  • FMLA: Provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave​​.
  • New York Law: Offers paid leave, a significant difference from the unpaid nature of FMLA​​.

Eligibility and Coverage

  • FMLA: Applicable to employers with 50 or more employees. Eligibility requires 12 months of employment and a minimum of 1,250 hours worked in the preceding 12 months​​.
  • New York Law: Covers most private employers, and public employers may opt-in. Eligibility depends on duration of employment (26 consecutive weeks for full-time and 175 days for part-time workers)​​.

Reasons for Leave

  • FMLA: Allows leave for personal serious health conditions, care for a new child, a seriously ill family member, or certain military family needs​​.
  • New York Law: Similar to FMLA, but does not cover leave for the worker’s own serious health conditions; however, New York’s temporary disability insurance might apply in such cases​​.

Job Protection and Health Insurance

Both FMLA and New York Law provide job protection and health insurance maintenance during leave​​​​.

Discrimination and Retaliation Protections

Both laws protect employees from discrimination or retaliation for taking leave​​​​.

Coordination with Other Benefits

  • New York Law: Allows coordination with short-term disability benefits, especially post-childbirth, and has specific provisions for workers’ compensation scenarios​

Resources about FMLA in NY

Here are other important NY related articles

FMLA per State

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FAQ about Family and Medical Leave in NY

1. What is Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) NY?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that grants eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year for certain family and medical reasons. In New York, this law is complemented by state-specific regulations offering additional benefits.

2. What are the eligibility criteria for FMLA in New York?

Employees must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months, completed a minimum of 1,250 hours of service in the past 12 months, and work at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.

3. What reasons qualify for FMLA leave in New York?

Qualifying reasons include the birth or care of a newborn child, adoption or foster care placement, caring for a family member with a serious health condition, the employee’s own serious health condition, and certain military family needs.

4. What is the duration and type of leave allowed under FMLA in New York?

FMLA permits up to 12 weeks of leave within a 12-month period, which can be taken all at once or intermittently.

5. What are the employee rights and employer obligations under FMLA?

Employees have the right to continued health insurance coverage and job reinstatement. Employers must maintain health benefits during leave and cannot retaliate against employees for taking FMLA leave.

6. How does one request FMLA leave in New York?

Employees should provide as much advance notice as possible, typically 30 days, and follow the employer’s leave request procedures, including providing any necessary documentation.

7. How do federal and New York state laws compare regarding FMLA?

While the federal FMLA provides unpaid leave, New York State laws offer additional benefits, including paid family leave. However, New York’s laws do not cover leave for the employee’s own serious health conditions, which may be addressed by other state-specific benefits.

HR Expert | Talent Management Enthusiast. You've found the right place! I'm Jose Sanchez, your expert HR guide with extensive experience in HR insight and talent management. I write about how businesses can thrive by nurturing and leveraging their talent. When I'm not immersed in HR, I love to explore the fascinating worlds of physics and psychology.

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